A month ago, I couldn’t sleep one night. I remember laying in bed and just thinking about all sorts of things. Then a few thoughts came to me. One about a sermon I was getting ready to give the next day. The other about something else. So I grabbed my phone and typed up a note before I could forget or it could escape me. Here is that note:
“I am also feeling a pull to simplicity. I am not sure what this looks like exactly but it is a common theme in my thought and reading. It is something I need to give more thought and especially prayer to. I think I may have found my spiritual discipline to focus on.”
It was true then and is still true today. For quite some time I have been following some blogs on the practice of “minimalism.” If you aren’t familiar with the movement it is a rather nebulous term for a general movement to life with less stuff and more experiences. For some it is about reducing clutter at home. For others it is about taking the “100 Things Challenge” in which they do exactly that: get rid of everything they own except for 100 things.
I have been fascinated by this movement and I find that it has a certain appeal to me. This idea of living with less stuff, less clutter, less debt, less junk, just less? It sounds great. It is something I aspire to in my good moments.
But on the other hand, there are some things, there is some stuff, that I like. That I probably like a little too much. New computers. New stereos. Music albums. Books. Movies. TV Shows. TVs themselves. These are the kinds of things I find myself looking at throughout the week in my distracted, click through my email, mind-turned-off sessions.
And these two sides of myself often clash. Only recently have I learned to counter that impulsive online window shopping tendency with thoughts of higher ideals like minimalism. Or at the very least a semblance of a household budget.
I’m often reminded of a song by the Avett Brothers (easily my favorite musical group) called Ill with Want on their album “I and Love and You.” It speaks to how wanting and lusting after things and stuff can be toxic to a person and his or her relationships. I listen to this song when I am tempted. When I find myself wanting for no good reason other than “I want it.”
My wife and I recently implemented a policy at our house. We decided that we are not buying any new books until we have read through our current library. We’ve often been guilty of buying new books faster than we could read them due to school and other obligations. So now, no new books, with only a few exceptions. Those exceptions being 1. to complete a series we have already started reading or already partially own and 2. if an absolute favorite author of ours comes out with a new book. Emphasis on the “absolute” there on that second one. We have lots of “favorites.”
Anyway, I say all that to say that this is a journey. One that has taken time and will continue to take time. But I definitely feel a pull to simplicity. Its not just a good way to live, but I also think it is a spiritual discipline. One Jesus calls us to. Especially in today’s world of “buy-anything-you-want-the-moment-you-want-it-with-your-phone” stuff. I hear that call. I am sensitive to that call. And I am making an effort (some days better than others) to obey that call. And sometimes, writing about it just helps.
What about you? Do you resonate with simplicity and minimalism? Or do you have another “favorite” discipline or one that you feel pulled to? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.